When Microsoft first introduced the User Access Control (UAC) feature in Windows Vista (circa 2006), the world did not rejoice. Anyone who remembers Vista will remember that you couldn’t really do anything on the computer without getting a half-dozen prompts asking if you were certain…Are you certain your certain…You are sure…? It was great, amazing—and honestly one of the major reasons why Windows Vista was such a flop.
Fast forward to Windows 10 and the UAC feature still exists. However, Microsoft has refined UAC and it is now a truly important tool for keeping your computer safe.
What is UAC?
UAC, or User Access Control, lets you know when something (usually software) is interacting with your computer in a way that is outside of the norm. For example, when you are installing a new program on your computer, you will be prompted for permission to install the program. This may seem silly, “of course I want to install this program. I just told you to install this program!” However, if a virus decides to install a program, you may want to know. So, if randomly while browsing the internet, you are prompted to install a program, instead of your computer just installing this dangerous software, you get prompted, “Do I have your permission to install this program?” At this point, you either click ‘No’ or you call your IT professional.
Without UAC your computer would be installing software, changing settings and potentially doing many other dangerous things without your permission. UAC is there to ensure that what is going on in your computer is precisely what you want going on in your computer.
Why would I turn UAC off?
Some users may turn UAC off because they are annoyed by the regular prompts for permission. Others may turn it off because a piece of software isn’t working correctly due to UAC. Older software, insecure software, or poorly written software may require a lower level of security on your computer.
If your software requires low-level security, that requires you to turn off UAC—or other security features on your computer—I would suggest you replace, upgrade, or otherwise do something else. Lowering your security level to accommodate software is dangerous and opens you to attacks.
What should I do about UAC?
In Windows 10 managing your UAC settings is extremely easy and straightforward. All you need to do is to click on the Windows icon in the lower left corner (formally the Start button) and type “user” This will bring up a listing of programs and settings, one of which should be “change user account control settings.” Select this option and you will see a beautifully simple slider bar for setting the appropriate UAC settings. The default setting is the third from the bottom and is perfect.
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ACS is hosting a special free training. Join us on October 10 at the TC Chamber for “20 TECH TACTICS TO SECURE YOUR BUSINESS.”
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